Gartner Research

A Hybrid Model for Information Technology? Stick a Fork in IT

Published: 13 January 2009

ID: G00164819

Analyst(s): Mark McDonald


CIOs face the need to reorganize IT. Issues related to centralized vs. decentralized IT sit at the heart of CIO decisions. Both options carry strengths and weaknesses that in the past have caused CIOs to swing from one model to another. CIOs are looking for ways to look decentralized to the business units while being centralized to the enterprise. That requires a hybrid model of IT that combines the benefits of each model while managing the weakness of both. A hybrid model that places business-facing resources at the BU level with centralized IT services offers a potential solution. This hybrid model resembles a dinner fork, with business unit IT as the tines of the fork and centralized IT services as its base and handle. Using this simple analogy, CIOs can show business units how they can be responsive to their needs, while demonstrating how they plan to achieve operational and developmental efficiencies of scale. This hybrid model provides CIOs with a way of organizing resources focused at the business and enterprise levels. The model evolves IS Lite thinking into the realities of centralized IT and shared-service models. Implementing this model involves changing IT governance, leadership models and expectations. However, reorganizing resources alone will not achieve CIO or enterprise goals. This model is most effective when the enterprise uses IT to create value by addressing business needs rather than building systems or technology solutions. Using a needs approach enables IT to contribute value through applying enterprise resources, services, and solutions to business unit needs. CIOs do not have to choose one extreme or the other. They can harness the strengths of both models with the right combination of skills, organizational structure, a focus on business value, and the management discipline to provide customized solutions using coordinated resources.

Table Of Contents

A hybrid model for IT?

  • The IT organization is a moving target
  • Defining a hybrid model: a fork model for IT
    • Business unit IT faces off with each business unit
    • The base and handle create coordination, scale and efficiency
  • Hybrid IT requires effective coordination mechanisms
    • Value is the first and most important coordinating mechanism
    • Extending IT governance across the enterprise and across IT domains
  • The hybrid model provides a way to scale IS Lite
  • Success factors for a hybrid model
  • Sticking a fork in IT to create a hybrid model

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